Post initial setup, a primary concern will be the log-on issue. If your organization is fine with a separate log-on for your email provider, then this step will be quick. However, that's not typically what businesses want or users expect. In general, users expect to sign onto their desktops and have their email and file sharing sign-ons happen as part of that one-step process. Not surprisingly, this is called Single Sign-On (SSO) and it's enabled in one of three ways: through the use of a back-end directory service like Microsoft Active Directory (AD); an identity management service, like Okta (one of our Editors' Choice winners in that category); or several compatible web services that include SSO along with other apps and email services, like Google G Suite Business and Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium (two of the top providers reviewed here). Which method you choose depends on how your business is configured today and your long-term cloud services strategy. It's definitely a conversation you'll need to have either with your in-house IT staff or your outside IT consultant.
Automation is an emerging trend in the email marketing space. The ability to send pre-written emails to customers once they trigger a cue is a great marketing tool. For example, a clothing store might send a special discount coupon to a customer on their birthday. This email can be identical for each customer, aside from their name, and the email can be scheduled to send every time someone's birthday comes. Marketing automation allows you to reach customers without having to put together a unique email every time an event occurs. Depending on the size of your business, automated emails can save tremendous amounts of time.
The Elite Email cloud-based platform allows organizations of all sizes to build and grow their mailing lists, create emails, and track results with detailed reports and analytics. There's nothing to download or install with the software. With Elite Email, businesses can choose from more than 400 customizable templates to create email newsletters, promotions, announcements and coupons.
You can attach files up to 25MB and upload more than one at a time. Once they are attached, documents and images are displayed as thumbnails, so it’s easy to verify you’ve attached the correct files. When you receive attachments in an incoming message, these, too, are displayed as thumbnails so you can preview and sure they are safe to download to your computer.
CleverReach is an email marketing tool that uses a drag and drop newsletter editor to help users design emails. The company also provides data on how the email marketing campaigns are doing in addition to the ability to design the campaigns. CleverReach offers a free option, which can send up to 10,000 emails a month to 2,500 recipients for businesses with small email subscriber lists, or those looking to try out the product.
The Pro plan, which can have three users at a time, starts at $49 for up to 5,000 subscribers, while the Max plan starts at $165 per month for up to 10,000 subscribers. Committing to one year of service lowers prices by 18 percent, with a two-year commitment bringing them down 30 percent. iContact also offers the Enterprise plan, which supports up to 100,000 contacts. You'll need to contact the company to schedule a demo and obtain a personalized price quote.
And that leads us right into understanding service pricing and packaging. The email marketing services we reviewed range from about $5 per month to as much as $20 per month for a range of features. Many email marketing plans include unlimited email sends each month and bill you based on the number of subscribers. If you have a small list, then look for a company that offers a free plan, a low-cost plan for several hundred subscribers, or even a pay-as-you-go plan. On the flip side, many of these services also offer high-volume plans with up to 100,000 or more contacts. Sometimes this requires a custom plan that has to be arranged directly with a sales rep. If you're willing to commit, then look for the companies that offer discounts if you pay yearly rather than monthly. A few offer also money-back guarantees.